Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait for transportation after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad
Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait for transportation after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian town of Tel Abyad.Reuters File

A Kurdish militia group, backed by the US-led coalition airstrikes and Syrian rebels, has moved in on a strategic Islamic State (Isis) town in Syria.

According to the AFP, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are now merely 5 km from Tel Abyad, a strategic Syria town used by the Isis to gain entry to Turkey.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted that the Isis militants have abandoned 20 towns and fled towards southwest Tel Abyad. "YPG backed by the Syria rebels still advancing in the periphery," SOHR noted.

YPG fighters were battling the Islamic State militants on the eastern outskirts of Tel Abyad on Sunday, YPG spokesman Redur Xeili told Reuters.

A Kurdish activist noted that following the development, hundreds of local residents, largely Kurdish and Arabs, were trying to flee the town fearing bloodshed. "Tel Abyad is almost completely surrounded," Arin Shekhmos told AFP.

Thousands of Tel Abyad residents are reportedly queueing behind the barbed wire, seeking asylum in Turkey. Till now at least 13,000 refugees from Tel Abyad have entered Turkey.

A Hurriyet Daily News report citing an AFP correspondent on the Turkish side of the border stated that the Turkish security forces on 13 June used water cannon and fired warning shots to push Syrians away from the frontier.

Several images shared on social media also show Isis fighters, herding the refugees together and forcing them back to return to the town. Some of these images show Isis fighters smiling at the Turkish soldiers. 

The New York Times, citing a security source in Turkey, said: "(Islamic State) doesn't want people to flee. They are telling them the coalition forces would bomb the town if the civilians left."

In the meantime, Syrian activist group 'Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently' claimed on its Twitter feed that the Isis had stripped a Tel Abyad hospital of all its equipment and had moved it to Raqqa.

Twitter Reactions

Gilgamesh ‏@k4veh 

Fleeing ISIS gangs blew up another bridge 7 kms south of Girê Spî (Tel Abyad) this afternoon. #TwitterKurds


#BREAKING #ISIS blow up Al-Shrian bridge in #TelAbyad countryside to stop the progress of the coalition forces #Syria #Raqqa #RBSS .

Fer Gunay ‏@FGunay1 

Important to note: Unless #YPG provides it with an escape route in #TelAbyad #ISIS has nowhere to go besides Turkish border. Stay tuned

Barzan Sadiq ‏@SeniorB 

Reports claiming that #ISIL transferring valuable assets from #Tel_Abyad to #Raqqa, as #YPG close to take over the city.

Charles Lister ‏@Charles_Lister

#ISIS is likely set to give #Syria a bloody Ramadan, but YPG (backed by coalition strikes) is only 9.5km from Tel Abyad = threat to #Raqqa.

Barzan Sadiq ‏@SeniorB 

#Turkey Deputy PM Kurtulmuş: Currently there is no humanitarian crisis on the border, priority is for people to stay in #Tel_Abyad.